SUCCESS IS IN THE MIND PODCAST: Listen to Bamboo Tech CEO Lorrin White

Lorrin White_SIITM Wall Post

From hiding behind her desk in an operational role, to backing out last minute on a move to Frankfurt, redundancy and entering the male dominated tech world, Lorrin White is a trailblazer!

Founder and Entrepreneur Oliver Bruce speaks with owner operator entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders about their failures, barriers, mistakes, passion and persistence to achieve their vision

Despite texting being her only knowledge of mobiles, over the last 20 years, she has risen through the business to become the CEO of Bamboo Technologies. As well as her role as CEO, Lorrin is a female leader, mentor, local enterprise board member and NED!

She’s now diversifying even more with Business in Rhyme, where she writes poetry as a digestible and fun way to share her years of experience.

You can listen to the latest podcast with Bamboo Tech CEO Lorrin White here via your preferred provider either Apple or Spotify

Apple –E22: Bamboo Tech CEO Lorrin White – Success Is In The Mind

Spotify – E22: Bamboo Tech CEO Lorrin White – Success Is In The Mind

Full transcript for this episode of the podcast can be found below.

Lorrin White:

I hid, you know, I hid in an operational role behind my desk for a long time. And I think if somebody had forced me out sooner than I managed to recognize it for myself, I might be a bit further forward. I certainly would have realised what I love a lot sooner.

Oliver Bruce:

Hello and welcome to the new and improved Success is in the Mind with me, Oliver Bruce. A Pinpoint Media Production, this isn’t a podcast about the millions, the fast cars and the large houses associated with so many entrepreneurs. Instead, it’s about the barriers, the mistakes, the naivety and the drive. This is a reality check. What does it take to start a business, and how do you turn your idea into a success? Well, join me to find out from those that are doing just that. In today’s episode of Success is in the Mind, I speak to female leader, mentor, local enterprise board member, NED, and if that’s not enough CEO of Bamboo Technology, Lorrin White. Lorrin, who’s headed up Bamboo for nearly 20 years, has overseen the business’ significant growth and service diversification. From acquisitions to the internet of things, Bamboo are currently rolling out in partnership with CityFibre the installation of ultra-fast connectivity to businesses, the public sector, and to domestic users in Cheltenham, which alone, over the next 15 years, will be at some 765 million to GDP. This has got a little surprise in, so stay tuned; it is a good one. Lorrin, welcome to the show.

Lorrin White:

Thanks very much for having me Oliver. I’m looking forward to this.

Oliver Bruce:

So the first, and maybe the most obvious question that I’d kind of like to ask is, you know, unlike a lot of people that we’ve interviewed on this podcast who are typical entrepreneurs, you’re very much leader orientated. You’re now the CEO of Bamboo, but you do a lot of other philanthropic things as well, such as, you know, mentorship and being an NED. So how did you a) get into the role that you’re currently in and b) how do you find the time to actually work with other businesses?

Lorrin White:

Well, the role I’m currently in, I suppose, there’s a number of those. So obviously as you said, I’m the CEO of Bamboo. That was a long journey. It started 19 years ago and that really was a foot in the door as an admin assistant. And I’ve just grown up, I suppose, matured with the company, and took every opportunity that was put in front of me really. So that feels very much to me, like a very natural, slowly and carefully crafted journey. And along the way, I don’t know, it’s something about maybe the community that I’ve operated in, or the people that I know, but there’s just sort of been a few questions get raised here and there: “What have you done in this situation? What do you do here?” And inevitably you end up finding yourself in a position whereby you’re offering advice. I don’t know if it’s something in my nature, but I’m one of those people that always offers help. So as soon as I see that somebody’s needing a little bit of advice or some guidance, or they need some of your time, or even if it’s just a bit of a sounding board, I just naturally find myself putting an offer out there to spend some time.

Oliver Bruce:

Because it’s interesting that you, I suppose, have mentored for the majority of your career as well though, because, what was it, 2011 you started mentoring? You’re now working, I suppose, it’s free for the LEP? There’s no payment there? That’s more for the greater good of the community, right?

Lorrin White:

Absolutely. Yeah. The LEP was, yeah, that was quite interesting. I think I’d always wanted to get involved in something that served the community and the county in a much better way. It’s very easy to become quite focused and very kind of one eyed, I suppose, about the business that you’re in, because that’s what, you know, your main role is. To encourage new opportunities and make sure everything runs all the time and it’s all consuming. Obviously I have done some mentoring in NED roles over the years and they’ve been paid roles, but I think I get much more out of the ones where you’re doing it, because it actually, it means something. It’s not about, you know, how much more could I chuck in the bank, or how nice a holiday can I have this year. Actually, if you’re delivering more and you can see that there are real benefits coming from that activity then that’s, I don’t know, much more fulfilling.

Oliver Bruce:

Much more rewarding indeed. And again, back I suppose, to pre Bamboo, you were working in pensions, was it not in, sort of, just before 2002, then you joined and took the reins over at Bamboo and you were kind of thrown into the world of tech and digital, and that was a good move because it’s kind of the way the world’s gone over the last 19 years.

Lorrin White:

Well, I’d love to say that that was a deliberate move. Because that would make it look like I had a plan.

Oliver Bruce:

[laughs] A strategy of some sort.

Lorrin White:

No strategy whatsoever. It was very simple for me. Yeah. I moved to Cheltenham actually with my first husband and as many first marriages do that went a little awry. And so I was in Cheltenham, which is rather an expensive place to live with two young children. I decided that pensions- I gave it a go like everybody else did, I think, in Cheltenham, you end up working for Eagle Star, but it wasn’t really enough. And I ended up leaving in the end anyway to have my second child. And that was at the point at which, you know, the marriage went a little bit odd. After that I went back into work and I found myself a role actually that was a software company, and they were headquartered in Frankfurt.

Oliver Bruce:

Oh right, okay.

Lorrin White:

And they had an office. Yeah, on Imperial Square, tiny little office. And I got involved in the finance team there. And gradually, as is always the case, wherever I would go and work, I ended up looking after the project costs, which were global. And they were at that time building trading platforms for the international banks.

Oliver Bruce:

Wow okay, that must’ve been quite interesting.

Lorrin White:

Really interesting. Although I only had a very, very small role on an admin side of it, but I was offered a job in Frankfurt. I said I’d take it, made all the plans, looked at international schools. And about six weeks before I was due to go, I had a little bit of a flutter and I thought, “I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing here. I’ve managed to stand on my own two feet as a single mum here in Cheltenham. It’s a beautiful place to live. It has a fantastic night life.” I had a group of friends and I actually backed out.

Oliver Bruce:

Really?

Lorrin White:

Yup.

New Speaker:

Got cold feet?

Lorrin White:

I did get cold feet yeah.

Oliver Bruce:

Do you regret that?

Lorrin White:

I do a little bit. Yeah. Although I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t made that decision. But yeah. I don’t think I ever backed out of a decision after that.

Oliver Bruce:

So did you stay at the company that was supposed to post you to Frankfurt or was that when you jumped ship and then went to go and work for Bamboo?

Lorrin White:

A few weeks later I was made redundant because they closed the UK office.

Oliver Bruce:

Right. Okay. So that kicked you into gear somewhat as well.

Lorrin White:

It did. Yeah. Yeah. And then really, I think it was a position where I just hadn’t really considered what was in front of me. I had no idea really what was around me. I was just in the moment of the job. And then I did a little bit of temping as everybody does. And then I got this role at this company called Total, which is what Bamboo was called back in 2002.

Oliver Bruce:

It was founded in what, 1998 is that right?

Lorrin White:

That’s right, yep.

Oliver Bruce:

And then it was rebranded and the founder is still involved, isn’t he, on the board?

Lorrin White:

He is, yeah. Stuart. Yep. I’ve worked with Stuart for a long time now, obviously. Yeah, so Stuart started it in his back bedroom, really. It was, he was kind of repairing PCs and mobile handsets at the time. And he just had the idea that it was, you know, what if we could have a one-stop shop where people could come for all of their comms? At the time mobile phones were still new, really. I mean, I remember when I joined the company, the only thing I really knew how to do on my phone was text. And I used to get horrific bills because that’s just what you did back then. And it cost a fortune, but it moved very quickly. So, yeah, so I went there, I had a fantastic interview and it was a smelly little office.

Oliver Bruce:

Gritty but functional I can imagine.

Lorrin White:

Yeah I think that’s a really good way of putting it. Yeah.

Oliver Bruce:

But it was, I’m assuming back in the day, quite male dominated and correct me if I’m wrong, but you kind of look back at IT 10, 15 years ago and go, okay: so there was a lot of, I suppose, testosterone in there because I suppose it was, you know, sort of unregulated, they could shift things at some prices and buy great kit and it’s all very exciting, but you’ve come into the mix. You’ve led the team. You’ve grown the team over the last 19 years. And you’re now the head of the company as a CEO. Now you’re obviously a female in business. Did you come up against any major barriers back in the day or indeed currently?

Lorrin White:

No barriers? No. I firmly believe, and maybe I have the luxury of being able to say this because of the people I work with, that the only barriers really were any that I put in place for myself.

Oliver Bruce:

Right.

Lorrin White:

My personal belief of what I could achieve. The team I worked with gave me, you know, I would have to go in there and fight for some of those opportunities, but that’s how it should be, I think, I don’t think you should be handed anything on a plate. If you really want something, you have to put your heart and mind to it and make it happen. So, no, they never ever held me back. I did have a few interesting episodes though. Hugely male dominated. I was the only female in the business, for some time, you know. I’ve got stories of older guys, you know, smacking bottoms and things like that. You know, it’s not something that should have happened, but it did. I had a guy, I won’t say his name because it’s not fair it’s long time ago, and he was quite a bit older and he smacked my bottom a couple of times. And I remember going to the MD at the time and saying, “right, that’s it, he’s done it twice now. And I’m telling you now, if he does it a third time, I am going to turn around and probably slap him back”. And the response that I got was “Can I be there when you do it?”

Oliver Bruce:

And what did you say to that?

Lorrin White:

Well, nothing really. I suppose I laughed it off.

Oliver Bruce:

I know, but that was the wrong response?

Lorrin White:

It was. Yeah. And I look back at it now and I think, you know, as I said, I’m very fortunate. That was only, you know, I only dealt with very small things like that. I got asked some ridiculous questions over my time, you know, “how many people did you sleep with to get that role?” All those kinds of things. Really, really offensive.

Oliver Bruce:

Hugely.

Lorrin White:

But you know what, I’m a stronger person for it. And like I said, I’m grateful. Maybe I just have that attitude where, you know what, you kind of deal with those things and you suck it up and you take it and you notch it up as experience. And you move on to the next one.

Oliver Bruce:

And that’s quite thick skinned and impressive, because not a lot of people would look at it in such a way and brush it off. But if we just dial back to childhood then and parents and what they did as a career, do you think you learnt some resilience from them?

Lorrin White:

Absolutely. Yeah. My parents are amazing people. So my parents both fostered actually. So my dad was in the RAF. So we moved around as children, not a huge amount, not like some did all over the world.

Oliver Bruce:

I’m the same, I’ve been all over the place.

Lorrin White:

Which is great, I think. At the time, difficult, I remember as a teenager moving into a school that sort of 13 years old where all the friendship groups had already been established and I came in as the, you know, ex forces into a civilian school. Oh, it was just really tough, but you know, it’s what makes you who you are. But so he, my father, was in the forces, both my grandparents were in the forces and I think there’s a real sense of duty there. And that’s kind of been instilled into us as we’ve grown up. So I have three brothers as well. So my parents fostered, my mum brought us all up. We took in, I think it was sort of nearly 30 children.

Oliver Bruce:

Crikey!

Lorrin White:

Yeah, over a period of time. And then when that finished, my mum then went to go and work in child protection, with social services. And I still, I wonder now how she did it; to compartmentalise some of the horrors of what she was dealing with on a day-to-day basis, to then come home and be, you know, the sound solid parent, was just incredible. And I think both my parents have always been like that. My brothers have quite interesting stories as well. When I was 18, my older brother had a terrible, terrible accident and paralyzed his right arm. And he has an amazing story. And I kind of look back at these things and think that they’ve definitely instilled a sense of resilience and fortitude to just- you just keep going. That’s what you do.

Oliver Bruce:

Yeah. Stiff upper lip, really. I mean, do you think you can be born a leader or can you learn to be a leader? Because you have to have a certain amount of resilience to be able to lead. I’m not saying necessarily you need to be fully naïve when you start a business either, you have to understand what you’re going into, but do you think you can learn this? Or is it sort of hereditary?

Lorrin White:

If you’d have asked me that 15 years ago, I would have said, no, you can’t teach it. But I would have said that because I was nervous, shy, didn’t really know who I was.

Oliver Bruce :

When did you find yourself?

Lorrin White:

It’s been gradual over the years, but I think that was a real turning point. I did Myers-Briggs with a consultant.

Oliver Bruce:

Oh yeah, I love a Myers-Briggs test.

New Speaker:

I love all the profiling stuff, I think it’s fantastic.

Oliver Bruce:

What are you?

Lorrin White:

I was an ENTP.

Oliver Bruce:

Ooh I’m an ENTJ. Okay. So not far off.

Lorrin White:

See, what I found intriguing was when I did that, I remember sitting with the lady who did it with me and she said to me, “right before we go into all of the results and we’ll talk it through, what do you think are your results?” And I said, “I’m definitely going to be over on the introversion scale. You know, I’m going to be right up there at the end. I really struggle with confidence. You know, I’m not good with confrontation. I’d hide away if I can”. And she said to me, “well, wow, that really surprises me because I would have said the complete opposite about you, from what I know about you already”.

Oliver Bruce:

Well, you seem quite self-aware just by making that sort of judgment to a certain extent, or at least confident enough to be self-deprecating, which in and of itself is a confident thing.

Lorrin White:

Yeah. Which I suppose on reflection, I would say, yeah, I agree with you. But at the time I didn’t, and when she showed me the results and I was right up at the other end of the scale on the extroversion, I’m like, what is that about? It’s not who I am.

Oliver Bruce:

When you get quite drunk though, did you get quite lairy and have a good time and make sure you’re looking after everybody?

Lorrin White:

I do. Yeah, I do. Yeah, of course I do. I love a good dance. I love messing around. I love being silly. Because you’ve got to have fun, haven’t you? Life’s about having fun.

Oliver Bruce:

Indeed. You do. And then in terms of being confident and being an extrovert, I mean, that goes hand in hand with being a leader or commander, I suppose. Going into the kind of the board structure that you have, because you have, I think, there’s five on the board, including yourself and including Stuart Davis who founded it, do you ever come up against them, or him, as a founder pushing back and just generally saying no, when, you know, as a CEO, it’s the right thing to do, but as the founder, it’s his baby. Is there a sort of amount of friction there ever?

Lorrin White:

Not really, no. It’s not something that- I’m sure it’s happened over the years, but I suppose whenever I go into the boardroom, I’ve always been the same. If I want to happen or I genuinely believe it’s the right thing for the business or the individual or whatever it is that we’re talking about, I don’t go in without fully researching and prepping. And every time I go in, it will be with the base that I have gone round the entire thing, whatever it might be and looked at every possible angle and view and be able to answer the questions. So it’s very rarely, unless it’s the nitty gritty of finances, because frankly, I don’t ever want to be in accounting.

Oliver Bruce:

[laughs] Why’s that? Because you just don’t enjoy numbers?

Lorrin White:

Do you know, I love numbers. I just, you know what, just journals and moving numbers around, it’s not my thing.

Oliver Bruce:

Gives you a headache?

Lorrin White:

Yeah. As I said, somebody else can do that. As long as the numbers look the right way, it’s good.

Oliver Bruce:

Not too negative, then you’re doing the right thing [laughs]

New Speaker:

Exactly. Yeah. So I think I just go round a problem and make sure that any objection I’ve got the answer to. It doesn’t mean that I’m not prepared to flex. So I’m not saying that I’m very rigid in my view. You know, the worst thing that can happen to me is that I came away from the board meeting with a no to a proposal that I’d put forward.

Oliver Bruce:

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Lorrin White:

No, definitely diversifying. We traditional telcos- you’ll know because, you know, as every business knows the cost of comms has come down considerably over the last 10 years.

Oliver Bruce:

It’s almost affordable now.

Lorrin White:

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. You don’t make much margin on it. So, you know, margin has very much eroded over the last 10 years to the extent that a lot of those services have become, I suppose, quite commoditized in order for you to stay relevant, to be able to accommodate that sort of business in the SME small corporate space, you need to be able to create margin in other areas. And IT managed service was exactly where we saw that. The beauty of Tech Op is that they actually had this fantastic little gem that nobody really knew about. And we still don’t shout a huge amount about it, but they had a software development team, which obviously we still have, who created software for the justice sector.

Oliver Bruce:

Oh right, okay.

Lorrin White:

Yeah. So there are long-term contracts that exist in the immigration and prisoner transportation sector.

Oliver Bruce:

That’s nice and sustainable.

Lorrin White:

Well, sadly it is, and I think we knew that that was kind of the jewel in the crown. So the IT managed service, part of what we brought in was essential for us to develop our core offering. But the justice sector proposition was really something quite unique and remains that way. And now we are putting further development and investment into that because it’s, as you say, it’s exceptionally sustainable and contracts that exist sort of 10 years plus are very attractive.

Oliver Bruce:

And it’s so interesting because we’ve not had on this podcast- I think we’ve done nearly 30, 33 episodes now, anyone who’s actually acquired a business. We’ve had someone that’s sold a business, founded businesses, et cetera, but not somebody that’s acquired a business. So what does that process look like when you want to go in and prospect the purchase of a business, how do you go about doing that?

Lorrin White:

A number of different ways you can go to any number of brokers that are out there. Obviously, you know, you don’t have to go far to look for people who are operating in the M&A space, who would happily take a cut of a transaction, but it’s not the way that we did it. We’re very much about building relationships with people. And so when we have an acquisition target, we court that target for a period of time, because actually fundamentally you need to understand whether or not you’re going to get on with the people that run that business. If that is what your agenda is, if you are running an acquisition program that is literally, you know, it’s a buy and build, it’s a, you know, take out the costs on day one. That’s different. That’s not the kind of acquisition trail that we’re on. We’re about sort of quality partnerships and long-term.

Oliver Bruce:

Is there anyone else in the pipeline then?

Lorrin White:

Of course there is.

Oliver Bruce:

Care to share?

Lorrin White:

No [laughs]

Oliver Bruce:

[laughs] I was going to say that’d be a punt. I mean, because you guys are still growing rapidly though. You’ve done incredibly over the last couple of years and you haven’t really been impacted during the pandemic at all, really, have you?

Lorrin White:

No, no, we haven’t. What’s quite interesting is that I think there is a perception in the marketplace that we have grown rapidly. But I’m sure some people listening to this will go away and have a look at our accounts and go, well, no, they haven’t.

Oliver Bruce:

Treading water is okay during the pandemic.

Lorrin White:

Absolutely. And you know, we’ve been through probably- actually my whole tenure as MD was taking us through a transition program. So, you know, we’ve had years where we showed a loss in our accounts because we’d made a very deliberate decision to invest in our systems and our accreditations. So, you know, there’s fluctuations in our numbers that, you know, we don’t follow the traditional route of, you know, an upward curve, but that’s, you know, that’s coming now.

Oliver Bruce:

But surely the only point you want to do that is when you’re looking to exit or sell the business yourself, right? Because you’re wanting the EBIT to be as great as it possibly can be, but if you’re just wanting to better the company then making a loss is not always a bad thing.

Lorrin White:

No, no, I absolutely agree. And the rest of my board would completely share that view that you have to. You can’t expect results without investing. And that’s great for me. I don’t like things staying the same anyway, I kind of need to change. I need to push things forward. You need to push the envelope all the time. And that ability to kind of invest in the business and, you know, obtain your ISO accreditations and implement new systems and review your internal infrastructure, all those kinds of things. And you know, along with business as usual, that takes time. That takes money. I would love to say that we’ve been through a digital transformation program that we did in 12 months, but that’s complete rubbish. And anybody that tells you that that’s achievable, I think in 12 months and continue to run business as usual-

Oliver Bruce:

Hasn’t implemented it correctly?

Lorrin White:

Exactly. If you’re properly transitioning your business and transforming it for the digital age, then yeah, it takes a lot longer and it isn’t something that has a start and an end. It has a start.

Oliver Bruce:

It just on goes for the next couple of years. And looking at the experience and the knowledge and the fact that you know how to transition and you know how to implement change, is that one of the reasons that OASYS, Open Administration Systems, decided to instruct you to be an NED for them, or was that you very much just liking them as a business and wanting to help them?

Lorrin White:

Bit of both, bit of both. I kind of got to know them on a personal level, through a neighbor actually many years ago, and they’re a very different business. So their services are outsourced accountancy for the hospitality industry. So for me, that was something completely different.

Oliver Bruce:

Ironic as well, because earlier you said you didn’t like accounts. [laughs]

Lorrin White:

Exactly. Yeah. And believe me, I never got involved in any of the accounts, but it was all the people, it was all the people stuff. You know, the fantastic guy that leaves the business, but he was holding the whole business and all of that responsibility on his shoulders alone. And what he really needed was to put a management team in place. And he had some very loyal, longstanding staff. He had teams of people that were kind of up and coming, but they were struggling a little bit with how to do that. And bless him, I’m sure he won’t mind me saying, that, you know, sometime ago he went away for a two week holiday in the hope to get some kind of R&R, and when he came back, I think he had so many issues to deal with that it felt like that was a completely pointless two weeks. And that was really what he wanted me to come and do was to work with him and help him to build that executive team so that he could step away a little bit more.

Oliver Bruce:

How did you go about doing that? Because there’s a lot of people I speak to who have mentors and NEDs. Do you think one is better than the other or are they both completely different?

Lorrin White:

I think they are different. The NED came later. And really, it was very much about that sort of mentoring and being that sounding board, but also going in and understanding the team. And I always think that when you’re outside, you see a bit more- this is my father-in-law’s term actually, “the onlooker always sees more of the game”.

Oliver Bruce:

Smart, I like that. That’s really nice.

Lorrin White:

Yeah, it’s great. And when you go into a business for the first time and you don’t know anybody in it, other than you’ve spent a couple of hours with the owner who tells you of there are challenges, you go in with a fresh sheet, a blank page, “Okay. Who are these people? I’m going to determine in my mind what I think their strengths and weaknesses are”. You know, and I spent an hour with every single member of staff just to try and understand what their motivations were, why they were there, what they wanted to achieve, all that kind of stuff. And you inevitably find yourself identifying the people who you believe will help take the business to the next stage. And then you end up mentoring those individuals. So you find yourself moving almost away from the kind of ownership into the leadership, and that naturally then, because you become much more knowledgeable about the business and the processes, then I think at that point, then the NED bit became relevant because actually I then needed to step away again, and only come in on a sort of monthly basis for a board meeting or to help them run a strategy session around their messaging or whatever it might be. So yeah, they’re two very different things. And I think that the requirements and the timings are different as well, that it’s about the needs of the business at the time.

Oliver Bruce:

And I mean, in terms of, you alluded to the fact that this chap went on holiday for two weeks and I know only too well what it’s like to go on holiday and come back and realize that actually that was the worst thing to do [laughs]. But in terms of routine and in terms of how you manage your specific life, do you actually have a, because a lot of these senior people do, a structure and a plan as to what your day looks like, what time you get up and how you work that? Or are you very much spontaneous and just crack on with what’s thrown at you?

Lorrin White:

Both actually.

Oliver Bruce:

It depends what day of the week it is?

Lorrin White:

It really does. I’m not necessarily good with structure. And when I say that, I mean, I’m doing the same thing every day. At the same time, my husband will tell you, it drives me mad. He’s very routine and very structured. You know, he understands exactly how long everything’s going to take. And “what time are we going to do this today? Well, I’m going to be busy for this 20 minutes, dah, dah, dah, dah. So we can do that at that time.” And I’m not- please don’t do that to me because that’s, I can’t operate that way, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that- get up in the morning, do something that invigorates your mind, whether it’s go out for a walk, you know, go for a run, get on the treadmill and do something that wakes you up. I think I said to our team, actually, when we first went into lockdown this time last year, don’t forget that if you’re working from home, you still need to have that thing that wakes you up. So even if you’ve got to, I don’t know, walk around the outside of your house five times, before you sit down at a desk in front of your computer, then do those things because you do still need to feel like you’ve started a new day and you finished your day.

Oliver Bruce:

Yeah. You need to have that end point. Well start and end point, I suppose. And what is yours then? What do you need to do to get up in the morning? How do you kick yourself gear?

Lorrin White:

It’s a little different actually, now.

Oliver Bruce:

Because you’re in Portugal, you’ve got a swimming pool. So you can just out for a morning swim and maybe a margarita and- lovely!

Lorrin White:

[laughs] I’d love that to be the case, but no.

Oliver Bruce:

Join the morning call half-cut, and the day ahead is perfect.

Lorrin White:

I think they’d spot that a mile off, my team. No it’s actually the change of role from MD to CEO that has created a bit of a change for me. So when you’re the MD, I think you feel you hold all of the accountability. You have to understand, or certainly I felt I had to understand, what was going on in every part of the business. So you’d have a touch point into all of it, and you are also the voice of the business. So everything you say and everything you do and how you communicate and how regularly is really important. So I think when you’re in the crux of that, other MDs might be different, but when I was in the crux of that, I could not think of anything else, but work. It’s constant. All the time. And from the moment that I opened my eyes in the morning, “okay, what have I got today? That’s that. I’ve got that leftover from yesterday. I must make sure I do this. I promised I’d do that”. And so you’re on it. For me, I would actually, my walk in the morning, would be to try and get some semblance of order in my head. Now my responsibility as CEO is different. So I look after the marketing of the business, I very much do all of the promotional activity. My job is to make sure that I am developing opportunities with supply chain partnerships or business development, whatever it might be. And so there isn’t quite so much intensity and structure required. I have to be a bit more free flowing, I think.

Oliver Bruce:

Have more head space?

Lorrin White:

Yes, absolutely more head space. Yup.

Oliver Bruce:

Steve Jobs once said – and this is a tenuous link I’ll be honest, Lorrin, but we’ll go with it – that “innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not as a threat”. And speaking about obviously head space and the fact that you, as a business, need to continue to innovate and push the envelope, as you said, you know, does that come into it? Do you have to be able to just make sure that you consolidate everything so that you can continue to innovate because you’ve reached a capacity beforehand?

Lorrin White:

Yes. I think, yeah, that’s a really, really good reflection of exactly what it is. You do need head space to think, and to be able to even imagine what the next thing is, or to consider the thought process around what you might do. As I said before that, you know, previously going into a boardroom as an ops director or MD you think the whole thing through, but that the intensity is on the individual task at hand. Whereas yeah, as that kind of innovator leadership role, you have to be thinking about a much more- a bigger picture.

Oliver Bruce:

More long term almost. And I suppose looking back over the last 12, 18 months, obviously there’s been this small thing called a pandemic that happened, but in terms of innovating during that pandemic, is there anything that you have done over those last couple of months that you don’t think you’d have been able to do beforehand simply because the market wasn’t right?

Lorrin White:

Do you know, it’s interesting. I would actually probably say it would be to do with our promotional activity. We’re digital, but not hugely. We very much put value and time and investment into physical events, into traveling to see people same as everybody else has really. But I think we recognised very early on in the pandemic that lots of our competitors went very quiet very quickly. And we saw that as a huge opportunity, particularly social media. And so we just went for it.

Oliver Bruce:

Yeah. Well, those that market through a recession or a pandemic or indeed a disaster often come out the other end in a stronger position simply because people can see that they’re resilient and sustainable.

Lorrin White:

Yeah. Yeah. And that was very much the message that we put out. I mean, we have to anyway, our whole offering is about help, enabling business to operate. So our customers needed to know that we were there and we hadn’t closed our office. The whole team were operating. So it was very, very important that we got that out there. But we did start to look at additional products and services, you know, we did bring in thermal imaging and we really went probably hell for leather on that and invested quite a bit on the promotional activity around it. Because as you said, it kind of gave us the opportunity to demonstrate to our audience that we can be quick on our feet.

Oliver Bruce:

Yeah. Well, I mean, what are you, you have staffing of 50, 60 now? Is that about right?

Lorrin White:

Yeah.

Oliver Bruce:

So, I mean, you’re still quite agile. You don’t have to, there’s not a vast amount of people that you need to try and choreograph.

Lorrin White:

Nope, no, absolutely.

Oliver Bruce:

Which sort of plays into your favour, I suppose.

Lorrin White:

Yeah, that’s right. And I think that’s, as you said, what was the difference was the speed at which the team worked. I think that’s what we recognized in the first three months was we thought, “hang on a minute here, we’ve managed to go up a couple of gears. Why on earth have we not been pushing? And you know, maybe using that or recognising that that was there previously, why is it only now that actually we’ve pushed and the whole team have delivered?”

Oliver Bruce:

Yeah. Well, disaster sometimes stems opportunity for some business. And actually looking ahead, what does success actually look like for you guys now you’ve kind of got that understanding of “oh Christ, we actually did a lot more than we thought we could have done”?

Lorrin White:

We’re a national business, in fact, we’re an international business. We’ve got, we’ve got contracts in Australia as well.

Oliver Bruce:

Oh have you?

Lorrin White:

Yeah. Yep. So we’re looking at some other external markets. So you know, the States is interesting, you know, if we’re already in Australia, New Zealand has some interesting opportunities- all in that kind of justice sector space. So there’s a huge opportunity there. And with the existing software and the team that we’ve got, we can grow that.

Oliver Bruce:

And looking back, I suppose, at when you first started, if today, you could give yourself a piece of advice, you know, what would that be to a younger Lorrin?

Lorrin White:

Oh my goodness. Come out from behind the desk sooner. I hid, you know, I hid in an operational role behind my desk for a long time, not really recognising the confidence and the ability that I had. And I think if somebody had forced me out sooner than I managed to recognize it for myself, I might be a bit further forward. I certainly would have realised what I love a lot sooner.

Oliver Bruce:

For those that haven’t got the ability to be, I say ability, but haven’t got, haven’t been forced out, so to speak, you know, how would they take that leap? When is the right time for somebody to go “now, I’m going to take a punt. Now I’m actually going to try and do something a little bit more risky and outside my comfort zone”?

Lorrin White:

The moment at which you become bored. If you’re starting to feel unfulfilled in what you’re doing, I think we, human nature, we have a tendency to let that drag because we think “well it might change next week, or, you know, well my job while I don’t like it today, but it might get better. It may- I’ll just hang on for a few more months”. I think once you start to have that feeling, that that’s when you need to act.

Oliver Bruce:

And do you run off your gut? Or do you run off your heart?

Lorrin White:

Well, bit of both maybe?

Oliver Bruce:

Or head, frankly. There’s options of three there.

Lorrin White:

Strangely the head probably comes last, actually [laughs].

Oliver Bruce:

Likewise [laughs].

Lorrin White:

Yeah. My board would probably agree with that as well. For me, it’s gut. We spend a lot of time dealing with other people.

Oliver Bruce:

Yeah. I mean, do you manage people on your gut then? Do you make the management decisions based on what your gut is saying or what the numbers are saying on a piece of paper?

Lorrin White:

Quite often it’s gut, which isn’t always right. Sometimes you need a numbers person to say, “come on, there’s a decision to be made there and you have dragged that on far too long”.

Oliver Bruce:

Do you have any experience in managing, or did you learn on the job?

Lorrin White:

I just learned that on the job and being a mum.

Oliver Bruce:

That is excellent experience. I haven’t been a mum, or indeed a dad, so still muddling through over here. But do you reckon MBAs and things like that are any good, or do you think actually the best thing to do, a bit like an apprenticeship, is just to learn as you go and ask questions?

Lorrin White:

Well I’ve been asked a few times actually, if I would like to do an MBA. I’ve toyed with it over the years, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I’ve actually decided not to do it. And because I recognise the only reason I was looking at it was to try and satisfy myself that I could actually get a reasonable grade and a qualification because I didn’t in the past.

Oliver Bruce:

[laughs] Back in the day. And then, well, you’ve done alright. You’ve done, alright out the back of it. You don’t need to have good grades. I’ve got one GCSE. I mean, a lot of people we speak to haven’t got very good grades at all and they’re smashing it.

Lorrin White:

Yeah. And that’s what I think, you know, is an MBA important? I don’t know. I think if you feel that you’ve got a limited time to learn and you’re, you kind of, I don’t know, you operate off the back of-

Oliver Bruce:

Qualifications and career ladders?

New Speaker:

Yeah and study, if that’s your thing, then maybe that’s right for you.

Oliver Bruce:

Academia is certainly not my thing. It seems not to be your thing, but in terms of how people can find Bamboo. If they’d like to instruct you guys to do what you guys do best, and that is install excellent high speed internet, as you’ve done for us, how can they find you guys?

Lorrin White:

We are on our website, obviously, which is just bamboo.tech. You can find us on social media. This is where I should be able to reel off all of our tags of course, our handles.

Oliver Bruce:

We’ll put it in the description.

Lorrin White:

Yep. And the other thing is that, you know, I’m quite open about us being contactable. So our mobile numbers are out there. We made a very conscious decision many years ago to say, “look, if you want to pick the phone up to us, you pick the phone up”. It’s not “here’s our office line because I don’t want you to have my mobile”. You need to be able to get to us at any point, but there’s plenty of promotional activity out there. We’re sponsors for Circle 2 Success. You know, I’m involved in podcasts for, gosh, revenue rises, CRM. There’s lots of stuff. So, yeah, we’re easy to find.

Oliver Bruce:

And your LinkedIn is Lorrin White CEO Bamboo really isn’t it? That’s what you need to type in and it’ll pop up on Google.

Lorrin White:

And you might see a few little poems here and there at the moment, which-

Oliver Bruce:

They’re excellent, those poems. They are excellent. What’s the reasoning behind those poems then?

Lorrin White:

I don’t know about you Oliver, but I think in the last 20 years, I can’t tell you how many books people have recommended to me. Management books.

Oliver Bruce:

Have you read any?

Lorrin White:

No!

Oliver Bruce:

[laughs] Audio books are fine. Because they just narrate it to you. That is the way to do it.

Lorrin White:

Yeah it’s just, it’s one of those things. I mean, for me a book, that’s about my relaxation. I read fiction. I don’t necessarily want to read management books. It’s not that I don’t want to learn. And I don’t want to understand new tools and all that good stuff, but I think, I don’t know that you have to read a whole book for it. And so the poetry thing is, I kind of got to the point a little while ago where I thought I really don’t want to waste the experience that I’ve got. I’d like to share it. I’d like to help other people if they, because I’m getting quite a lot of requests at the moment for mentoring. I think if you can put stuff out there that people can read and they can digest it really quickly and take a few pointers from it. That’s kind of what it’s about really, it’s just to share a bit of my story in a way that’s easy to take in.

Oliver Bruce:

Have you got a poem to hand?

Lorrin White:

I did do a little one for you as well for this just in case you-

Oliver Bruce:

Did you? No!

Lorrin White:

Yeah.

Oliver Bruce:

Go for it! Let’s hear it, our special Success Is In The Mind poem.

Lorrin White:

This is a short one.

New Speaker:

So today it’s PinPoint podcast day with Oliver and Joe, we don’t have an agenda, but this is deliberate. And I know that once we start chatting, we will all be at such ease, sharing news and our opinions, creating listener opportunities. With Joe on all the tech controls, and Oli on the mic, we’re hoping we can pique your interest and pick up loads of likes. We want you to be walking or sitting at your desk, finding our chat interesting, something new for you to digest. You see, I know that PinPoint, they are focused on audience shares, whether visual or audio, they want to help my business, and they’d like to promote theirs. This podcast is an example of the lengths that they will go to work with you and your marketing team, putting out your best brand show. And so I’d like to thank them for letting me share some of their time, to promote a little about Bamboo, me, and my latest business support tool; business in rhyme.

Oliver Bruce:

I love that! This is the best thing that’s ever happened on a podcast. And we’ve had many, many things happen. Inspired. I had no idea. Joe’s very happy that he got a mention over there. Look at that. How long did that take you to write?

Lorrin White:

A few minutes this morning?

Oliver Bruce:

Oh, right. Okay. I thought you slaved away for hours.

New Speaker:

No, there are some that I have slaved away at, but yeah, I just, I did think today, I thought, oh no, I was quite looking forward to this today, so I’ll put a few lines together so that you get a sense of how I was feeling about it.

Oliver Bruce:

No that’s awesome. I was really looking forward to it. I’ve really actually really enjoyed it. And that is an excellent end to one of my favourite ever podcasts. So Lorrin, thank you ever so much. Enjoy the sun in Portugal and let’s grab a drink when you come back to the UK.

Lorrin White:

Fantastic. Thank you very much, Oliver.

Oliver Bruce:

If you’re looking for more stories from inspirational entrepreneurs, then check out The Cereal Entrepreneur from Startups Magazine, a digital and print publication that champions tech startups. You can find them by searching The Cereal Entrepreneur, as in your breakfast, into any streaming service or by going to startupsmagazine.co.uk. Thanks so much for listening and don’t forget to subscribe on all major podcast streaming platforms. Without you, this podcast is literally pointless. Rate and review on Apple Podcasts so that we can continue to climb the rankings, and if you want to join me on the show or know somebody else who will fit the bill, please contact me via LinkedIn @oliverbruceonline. Thanks again for listening. Take care.